Philippines getting all vaccines that China can spare
“We’re getting as many Chinese vaccines as China can spare, so there’s enough for everyone – very soon. Finally,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on Twitter yesterday.
AFP/Noel Celis

Philippines getting all vaccines that China can spare

Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is getting as many COVID-19 vaccines as possible from China as Beijing claimed that its vaccines hold a “stronger” appeal for the majority of nations, especially developing countries.

“We’re getting as many Chinese vaccines as China can spare, so there’s enough for everyone – very soon. Finally,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on Twitter yesterday.

Despite facing questions on the lack of transparency and low efficacy rates, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the Chinese COVID-19 vaccines have stronger appeal since these do not require ultra-low temperature for storage and shipment, and Chinese vaccines have good efficacy and safety data.

“Therefore I understand for the vast majority of countries, especially developing countries, Chinese vaccines hold a stronger appeal in this regard,” Zhao said in a press conference in Beijing on Friday.

“You may also ask competent authorities or relevant companies for more specifics,” he added.

Fourteen Chinese vaccines are in clinical trial, including five in stage three trial, and all have proven their safety through earlier animal tests as well as stage one, two and three trials, according to Zhao.

China, he said, pledged that COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good that helps ensure vaccine accessibility and affordability for developing countries.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi talked about vaccine aid for and in cooperation with Southeast Asian countries during his visits last week.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said Wang, who was on a two-day official visit to Manila, informed Locsin of China’s intention to donate 500,000 doses of vaccines to the Philippines during a meeting last Saturday.

A team of World Health Organization researchers studying the origins of the virus that causes COVID-19 arrived in Wuhan, China last week, but two members of the team were denied entry after both tested positive.

The coronavirus that sparked the current pandemic first emerged in Wuhan in December 2019.

BOC to facilitate vaccine release

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Customs at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (BOC-NAIA) will immediately facilitate the release of COVID-19 vaccines once they arrive at the airport.

The BOC-NAIA started inspecting warehouses and held several coordination meetings with concerned government agencies and warehouse operators for the arrival of authorized COVID-19 vaccines in country.

In a video conference initiated by the BOC-NAIA last Jan. 13-14 with Department of Health (DOH) representatives Dr. Susana Castillo, engineer Luzviminda Garcia, Heidi Umadac, Dr. Mico Amansec and Dr. Ariel Valencia; Alice Nader from Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization; and NAIA warehouse operators representatives from ECCF Paircargo, Cargohaus, Philippine Airlines, Philippine Skylanders Inc., Paircargo, DHL and TMW.

Last Jan. 5, the BOC-NAIA and representatives from concerned agencies discussed the protocols, permits and facilities needed for the arrival of the approved vaccines.

BOC-NAIA district collector Mimel Talusan said they have put up NAIA Customer Care Center and COVID-19 One-Stop Shop for COVID-19 vaccines that will accommodate and assist incoming importations through the Port of NAIA.

“We have no reasons to delay the release of these vaccines once they arrive at the airport because the government waited for a long time to get our millions of Filipinos vaccinated for COVID-19 that (has) killed millions around the world,” Talusan added.

The BOC-NAIA will also continue to be vigilant and stay committed to Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero’s border protection initiatives and ensure that no unsafe, dangerous, prohibited and unregistered goods will enter the country. – Rudy Santos

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